The Ghanaian Pallbearers Lean Into Their Role as Pandemic Grim Reapers

The Ghanaian pallbearers have become the most explicit cultural icons of this pandemic. They are cultural icons of death and dying. In a new video, they warn you to stay inside, lest you wish to dance with them in death.

These Ghanaian pallbearers’ ascent into not just internet fame, but also a real pandemic bogeyman, has been incredible to watch. This meme originally had nothing to do with COVID-19, but as a death centric meme that rose to popularity during the pandemic, it’s now hard to separate the two. The pallbearers themselves seem to be into the joke, and enjoy it, having appeared on local television and been featured on BBC Africa. They were even featured on a Brazillian billboard in April with the grim caption, “Stay home or dance with us.” In a new video, the pallbearers have leaned into their new role as harbingers of death.

While Tony Igy’s Astronomica plays softly in the background, the pallbearers, dressed in white, thank doctors all around the world. Then, one of them says, “now remember: stay at home or dance with us.” He tops it off with a grim chuckle. Benjamin Aidoo, the self-proclaimed “creator of the coffin dance,” also used the phrase in his new Twitter banner, featuring the other pallbearers wearing medical masks.

If we are being menaced by the grim reaper as a civilization, then I prefer to think of them like the trickster gods that the pallbearers represent to us. I want to dance with these guys all the way to the afterlife.

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